Fans of the deep, strategic, jetpack-powered combat of Tribes have been clamoring for a new game since the 2004 release of Tribes: Vengeance. Hi-Rez Studios delivers this year with Tribes: Ascend, a downloadable game for Xbox 360 and PC.

Hi-Rez already had a pretty good head start on creating a Tribes game in their massively-multiplayer online shooter Global Agenda. In that Unreal Engine 3 powered game, teams in combat armor jetpacked their way across futuristic landscapes, participating in massive multiplayer battles with other players.

In the Unreal Engine 3 powered Tribes: Ascend, players will likely be doing something quite similar.

We first thought Tribes was coming back in 2009, when gaming portal InstantAction teased a new version of Starsiege: Tribes playable in a web browser. InstantAction went down last year, and Atlanta-based Hi-Rez Studios revealed that they were the new holders of the Tribes license.

Hi-Rez teased a persistent-world version of the game called Tribes Universe. While that game is still on the way, Ascend is coming out first.

"Before Halo, before Modern Warfare, and before Battlefield, there was Tribes.", says Todd Harris, Hi-Rez Studios COO. "Tribes fans appreciate the game's essence - athletic FPS combat combined with teamwork and strategy. As we began development of Tribes Universe, we focused first on capturing that essence - refining and modernizing iconic elements like jetpacks, skiing, and vehicles. We've had tremendous fun play-testing and realized the potential of a multiplayer focused title ahead of Tribes Universe. The community has been waiting for a multi-player shooter that is the modern successor to T2. Tribes: Ascend is that game."

We'll no doubt see more of Tribes: Ascend as the year progresses. Seeing as Hi-Rez Studios is only three exits down from me off of Georgia 400, maybe it's time for a road trip.

Also, I tip my hat to Hi-Rez for calling the game Ascend, a name so easily bastardized should the game not live up to expectations.